For Immediate Release
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Contact: Myllisa Lardieri Kennedy 703-228-3152 cell: 571-722-8721 (voice) 703-228-4611(TTY)
Contact: Shannon Whalen McDaniel 703-228-3685 (voice) 703-228-4711(TTY)
ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Arlington County Board today voted to advertise a sanitary district tax for public hearing March 27, 2008 to fund an expanded stormwater management program. The Board postponed a public hearing on the issue to ensure a full public discussion of funding options for extensive repairs, replacement and upgrading of the County’s vital stormwater drainage infrastructure.
In advance of the March public hearing, the Board authorized $1.26 million to meet immediate stormwater program needs for the remainder of FY 2008.
The Board’s action came in response to requests from the public for further discussion of the proposed sanitary district tax and alternatives for funding repairs.
The Board voted at its November, 2007 meeting to hold a hearing on the proposed sanitary district tax at the Dec. 15 Board meeting.
Extensive repairs needed to County’s aging stormwater drainage network
With a stormwater drainage network built largely between 1930s and 1950s, Arlington County needs a new approach to funding stormwater management. The County’s expanded stormwater program will address aging infrastructure and other critical issues, such as system capacity, new regulatory requirements and potential impacts from climate change.
“Stormwater drainage infrastructure is a fundamental local government service needed to protect public health and safety,” said Paul Ferguson, Chairman of the Arlington County Board. “Stormwater management programs also play a significant role in Arlington’s efforts to protect and restore local streams, the Potomac River, and the Chesapeake Bay. A dedicated funding source will enable Arlington to plan for and meet the complex and extensive needs of its stormwater programs over the long-term.”
A major flooding event in June 2006 resulted in more than 300 reports of damage primarily to residential properties throughout the County, highlighting the complex and costly challenges of managing stormwater runoff.
More than 60 percent of the County’s 360-mile underground pipe network is more than 50 years old. The majority of the system is comprised of concrete pipes, which typically last between 50 and 75 years. Catastrophic failures of large corrugated pies and culverts in recent years have created a serious risk to pubic safety, resulted in multi-million dollar replacement costs, and disrupted traffic during repairs.
Proposed Funding Mechanism
The County Board voted today to re-advertise a sanitary district tax rate of $0.014 per $100 of assessed real property value for public hearing on March 27, 2008. The Board also voted to express its intent to consider use of the existing Arlington Sanitary District (established in 1930) as a mechanism for funding the County’s stormwater management program.
An analysis of funding alternatives concluded that the proposed sanitary district tax option is the most viable funding mechanism. This easily-administered tax is used by other Virginia and Maryland jurisdictions and can be included in the semi-annual real estate bills. It would not apply to existing tax-exempt properties. Under the proposed sanitary district tax rate, the average Arlington homeowner would pay roughly $75 in new taxes per year.
Between FY 2009 and FY 2014, the estimated funding level for the expanded stormwater program is $8 - $10 million per year. Over this six-year period, approximately $57.4 million in new funding is proposed for the stormwater management program, with $42.2 million of this cost directed to capital projects. Actual funding levels for the stormwater program will be proposed for each fiscal year, and the County Board will set sanitary district tax rates during the annual budget process.
The County Board authorized $1,256,582 to meet immediate stormwater program needs for the remainder of FY 2008. This funding will pay for staff to conduct required stormwater program inspections and perform system inventory and mapping functions and will also fund the development of a comprehensive update to the County’s Storm Water Master Plan.
Additional program enhancements beyond FY 2008 will include increased resources for inspections and maintenance, engineering plan review, and regulatory compliance. Capital funding will address system capacity improvements in critical locations (many identified during the June 2006 storm), proactive system maintenance and replacement, stream restoration projects, stormwater treatment retrofits to improve water quality in County streams and address regulatory requirements, and initial implementation of the adopted Four Mile Run Restoration Master Plan.
The County’s Watershed Management Plan (2001) recommended a study of stormwater funding options. In late 2003, the County Manager appointed a Stormwater Advisory Committee to help staff review the stormwater program and level of service, and to develop a stormwater management program needs analysis. The current proposal is based largely on this analysis, which was completed in 2004, and updated following the 2006 storm event. Proposed funding for a comprehensive stormwater program was discussed with key commissions and the County Board and included as a strategic initiative in the proposed FY 2008 County budget.
Arlington, Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the "10 miles square" parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation's Capital. It is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, occupying slightly less than 26 square miles. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods, quality schools and enlightened land use, and received the Environmental Protection Agency's highest award for "Smart Growth" in 2002. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world - including the Pentagon - Arlington stands out as one of America's preeminent places to live, visit and do business.